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India’s Sharma confident of PGA Tour success but ready to wait

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India's Sharma confident of PGA Tour success but ready to wait

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Top Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma believes he has the game to be a multiple winner on the PGA Tour and it is just a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’, the 22-year-old told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO – Golf – The 147th Open Championship – Carnoustie, Britain – July 21, 2018 India’s Shubhankar Sharma in action during the third round REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

Nine years after Arjun Atwal became the first Indian winner on the PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship, Sharma finds himself under a burden of similar expectations following a fairytale 2018.

The Chandigarh golfer won the Maybank Championship in January last year, a month after his Joburg Open triumph, and turned heads in his very first PGA Tour event, holding the second and third round leads at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

The title eventually eluded him after a final round 74, but Sharma cherishes the experience and is convinced that his success in golf’s elite league is just a matter of time.

“PGA Tour is the best tour in the world and it’s a no-brainer,” said the winner of the 2018 Asian Tour order of merit title. “It has been a fabulous experience with them till now… I will love to play there as and when I get there.

“As for winning, yes, I definitely have the game and will win there many times. I do not want to force the issue. Let it come. It’s just a matter of time. It can happen even the next week. So let’s see.”

Sharma had a busy 2018 when he crisscrossed the world to tee up in 33 events, including all four World Golf Championships and the majors.

He plans to keep the number down to 30 at the most this year with his focus on Europe.

“Last year has been a whirlwind, a maddening world tour, so to say. I basically could not refuse any of the events I played,” Sharma said. “I was spread out on three tours and I had some goals to be achieved.

“This year things are much more settled. I am concentrating mainly on the European Tour with a few big events thrown in. I will place myself so that I can give my best on the field.”

While he is ready to wait for most other glories, Sharma reveals the one goal he is chasing this year.

“All targets are achievable and they will come in their own terms. So I do not want to tag a timeline with those. Yes, if one thing that I want to do in 2019 it’s Presidents Cup. Because 2019 Presidents Cup will happen only in 2019.”

Right now, he cannot wait to return to Mexico with plenty of fond memories and an unfinished business on hand.

“Mexico will always stay with me for a long, long time, even if I win this year. It was my first WGC as well as PGA event and I led that for two days. Fairytale,” he said.

“Going back this year, I am focused on doing well. I had a few issues to sort out, which has been my baggage from the last year. Because schedule was so tight I had practically no time to address some of the nagging issues in my equipment.

“This year, I have sorted out quite a few of them. So I am feeling ready to go and take off from where I left last year. There is a job to be done.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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MLB putting new rules in place to curtail sign stealing

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MLB putting new rules in place to curtail sign stealing

Major League Baseball is putting new rules in place this season to guard against high-tech sign stealing, according to an SI.com report.

After several incidents of alleged stealing of catchers’ signs last season, including during the postseason, commissioner Rob Manfred had promised to have new directives in place this year to curtail the practice.

MLB already had a rule in place that prohibited sign-stealing from any place other than a runner on second base. That rule would now be updated to include measures that address the use of new technology to gain an advantage on opponents.

Among the new rules, according to the SI.com report, would be:

  • A ban on in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole.

  • Live broadcasts limited to each team’s designated replay official, who in turn will be monitored by a security expert.

  • Having all other TV monitors, such as those in the clubhouse and bullpens, on an eight-second delay.

Penalties for violation of the rules would include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money, according to the report.

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Top seed Thiem knocked out of Rio Open in first round

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Top seed Thiem knocked out of Rio Open in first round

FILE PHOTO – Tennis – Australian Open – Second Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2019. Austria’s Dominic Thiem in action during the match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Top seed Dominic Thiem was knocked out the Rio Open in the first round on Tuesday, going down 6-3, 6-3 to Laslo Derje, a result that gave the unheralded Serbian his first victory over a top 10 player in his career.

The world ranked No. 90 broke Thiem’s serve five times in what was a surprisingly lackluster display from a man who has won eight ATP titles on clay.

Thiem served five double faults in a tournament he won in 2017.

“He played a bit worse than normally I think, to be honest,” Derje said. “But I had a great day. I felt the ball really well, hitting well from the baseline and then attacking well when it was time for that.”

“The biggest win in my career so I’m really happy right now.”

In another upset, third seed Marco Cecchinato was beaten 7-5, 7-6(1) by Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

Cecchinato was on a high after winning the Argentina Open on Sunday but he never hit the same heights against the unseeded Bedene.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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NFL notebook: Brown, Steelers decide to part ways

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NFL notebook: Brown, Steelers decide to part ways

After meeting with team president Art Rooney II on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown announced on Twitter that both sides have decided to part ways.

FILE PHOTO – Dec 23, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown prior to kickoff against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

“Had a great meeting with Mr. Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin,” Brown tweeted.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and vice president Omar Kahn joined the meeting.

“Everyone agreed the trade will be for the best,” a source told Schefter.

—All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is still mulling over whether to retire or return to the New England Patriots for a 10th NFL season, Rosenhaus said.

“He’s thinking it through, he’s giving it a lot of thought,” the agent said on ESPN’s “NFL Live,” adding, “I imagine a decision will happen in the next couple of weeks.”

NFL Network’s Mike Giardi tweeted Tuesday afternoon that “Gronkowski told multiple teammates/associates that he wanted to win another ring in the first few days following the Super Bowl.”

—The Kansas City Chiefs are likely to apply the franchise tag to linebacker Dee Ford, according to multiple reports.

The franchise tag period opened and will run until March 5. The linebacker tag for 2019 is expected to be $15.78 million, according to ProFootballTalk.

In the 2018 regular season, Ford played in 16 games and recorded career highs in sacks (13), tackles (55), tackles for loss (13) and QB hits (29). The 27-year-old told WFNZ in Charlotte on Monday that he wouldn’t object to playing under the franchise tag while a longer deal is worked out between the sides.

—The New York Jets are not picking up the options on three defensive players, the team officially announced.

Defensive tackle Mike Pennel, safety Terrence Brooks and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis will become free agents.

The Jets had a deadline of Tuesday to pay a $1 million bonus to Pennel, 27, who signed a three-year contract last March. Had the team paid the bonus, the final two years of the contract would have been activated.

—New York Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo will interview Thursday for the Cincinnati Bengals’ vacant defensive coordinator position, according to multiple reports.

New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and Anarumo, 52, worked together on the Miami Dolphins’ coaching staff from 2012-15. Anarumo was interim defensive coordinator with the Dolphins in 2015 but otherwise he only has coached defensive backs during his seven seasons in the NFL.

He spent more than 20 years in college coaching prior to moving to the NFL.

—Tight end Scott Simonson re-signed with the Giants, the team announced.

The 26-year-old played in 16 games (four starts) in 2018 and caught nine passes for 86 yards and one touchdown in his first season with the Giants.

Simonson, who attended Assumption College, signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He then spent two seasons with Carolina before spending the 2017 season on injured reserve with a back injury.

—The Arizona Cardinals signed former Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay to a one-year contract.

The Bills released Clay last week, with the eight-year veteran heading into the final year of a five-year $38 million contract. His deal with Arizona is worth up to $3.25 million, including a $350,000 signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

—The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a three-year extension with offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo, the team announced.

Sambrailo, 26, started the last four games of the 2018 season for Atlanta, playing both left guard and right tackle. His contract was set to expire next month. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

—The Jacksonville Jaguars hired 31-year NFL coaching veteran Dom Capers as a senior defensive assistant, the team announced.

NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski makes a catch during the fourth quarter. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Capers, who was the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator from 1999-2000, most recently served as the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator from 2009-17.

Capers, 68, has been the head coach of two NFL expansion teams — the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and Houston Texans (2002-05). He was named the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in 1996.

—Field Level Media

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